Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Judge a man by his questions, not his answers."

Letter to the Editor
Toledo Blade
Questions are what is really important

As a professor and scientist, one of the first things I emphasize to my students is that questions are more important than answers. The purpose of asking questions and performing experiments is not so much to get answers as to develop new and better questions to ask next time. I would like to address the recent spate of Reader's Forum letters on atheism versus religion from this perspective.

Rather than spend our time debating the question: "Does God exist," let's take a cue from Voltaire (who said "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him") and focus on the more open-ended question: "What is the nature of God"? We could debate whether God is built into the very fabric of the universe (as suggested by Spinoza and Einstein) versus whether God is a supernatural entity existing outside of the natural world (as espoused by the Christian and Moslem religions).

Most importantly, we should all keep in mind that, whatever God actually is, God is surely beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. We should take a cue from Judaism, which refers to God as 'G-d' as a reminder of the limited nature of human knowledge, remain humble in the face of "Big Questions," and not get too caught up with specific answers. The real danger here is that when we get too attached to particular answers, we stop asking questions. As Voltaire also said, "Judge a man by his questions, not his answers."

Stephen Christman
Sylvania Township

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